Part 46

Jorge and Santy (Santiago), as they told me later, took a minute to look back and forth, deliberating without words, until they shrugged, Jorge straightened his cap and told me to keep up.

I should have been a bit more concerned, considering I had places to be, not to mention the not small sum I had on me. At any rate, we rattled down from the cementerio, past the few shops and downtown buildings, out to one of the neighbourhoods nearby. Santy rolled up to a small, yellow house with a small tree sheltering the yard and said to wait as he ran up and did a signal-knock that friends tend to come up with.

Jorge stood, slowly turning his board about, half-smiling at me.

Soon, an older boy appeared in the doorway, pulling on a shirt with what looked like an Etnies logo plastered all over it. He was followed by a woman (who I assumed was a relative), asking him questions rapid-fire. He kept saying: not long, it won’t take long, what do you want Jorge. The boy pointed out the street and all three stared.

I stared back, waved and said hola, and continued to stare because the woman turned out to be probably a hair shy of stupidly gorgeous.

Who is that? She said. Roberto, no! You can’t run off to go to your little boy’s spot every time they come by. And taking a strange man with you. Ni a palos!

Most of the sound had turned to dull ocean roar for me, even as I pried my eyes away and told myself not to be an idiot, because for some reason testy women do something to me. Especially one with waves and waves of dark, long hair, and you know what, I’ll spare you.

Roberto kissed her on the cheek, grabbed a deck from inside, came down the steps, and jogged up to me. Hey man, Americano? You want to see something crazy, yeah? Loco?

Canadiano, I said. And si, a little loco.

He gave me a look and spat to the side. Dias dollaros. American.

I lifted the now-wearying bag up on my shoulders and made an exaggerated effort of taking out my wallet and picking through it.

Trato, I said.

Shrugging, he hopped on his board and said, keep up.

I nearly didn’t, but fifteen minutes or so later, I huffed and puffed past the edge of town, where the boys had stopped, run out of pavement. They motioned to a field past a ditch, where we ducked between the barbed wire. There was a trail leading to a stand of trees a short run away, and past that a brief and rocky climb to what looked like the highest point around.

And of course, el cigarro.